Minimizing Lionfish in Belize’s Waters 

by McNab Editorial Team

Lionfish are very small creatures that are making a big impact on Belize’s marine life. For the past ten years, this invasive species has been reducing the biodiversity in the reefs; which makes it a huge threat to these ecosystems. Given that the Belizean economy is vitally dependent on tourism and a large part of this is the barrier reef attraction; this, therefore, means that minimizing lionfish is of utmost importance to keep the reef and biodiversity thriving.  


About the Lionfish 

This species made their debut in the Atlantic in 1985, with a population between 8-12 fishes. Since then their population has grown immensely and expanded to the Atlantic/Caribbean regions. A female lionfish can produce up to two million eggs a year and they reproduce every four years. Many other fish communities along the Belize Barrier Reef have been impacted by this predator due to the lionfish eating only juvenile fishes and their stomach being able to expand up to 30 times its normal size. They have venomous spines all over but the venom is found only in the dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins. Surprisingly, they are not deadly to a human being; lionfish can be eaten without harm to you.  

What is currently being done about it… 

Blue Ventures along with the Belize Fisheries Department have launched Belize’s National Lionfish Management Strategy Plan 2019-2023 that looks at how they will go about reducing the lionfish population in the next five years.   

The spines of the lionfish are used to make beautiful jewellery that you can get from Blue Ventures’ Belioness Lionfish Jewellery. As well, a much-known businesswoman Kaj – the owner of Kaj Expressions makes beautiful earrings from the lionfish spines. 

There are many restaurants throughout the country of Belize that serve lionfish; whether it be in ceviche, fillet, or fried whole. It is a very delicious meal! 

lionfish jewelry
Kaj Expressions
lionfish jewelry
Kaj Expressions

What can we all do? 

  • Fishermen and fishing enthusiasts can continue to capture these lionfish by spearing them and selling them to restaurants. 
  •  The spines of these fishes can be used to make intricate jewellery and souvenir items for you to sell or gift to family and friends.   
  • When eating at a restaurant request lionfish so you can help the continuous funding of hunting these fishes.  
  • You can continue sharing information about lionfish and educating others about the problem and how they can help minimize the population.  

Written by Reyann Garcia

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